Tags: kareem abdul jabbar | athletes | national anthem | protests | great

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Athletes' National Anthem Protests 'Great'

(CNN's "New Day")

By    |   Monday, 23 October 2017 03:36 PM

National Football League players and other professional athletes are not dishonoring the flag or their country by kneeling in protest during the national anthem, but are instead trying to hold America up to its own standards with how matters of justice are handled, National Basketball Association legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar insisted on Monday — and he thinks it's "great."

"This is something they're concerned about, their families and the direction that our country is taking," Jabbar told CNN "New Day" anchor Chris Cuomo. "They have to make a statement about it. I think it's great. Sports has always been a vehicle for protest. We can start with Jackie Robinson. You know, the fact that he started playing may force people to think, we believe these people deserve to be on the field."

Players also are reminded about their own families when they see violent episodes taking place, said Jabbar.

"The reason that [Cleveland Cavaliers forward] LeBron James had so much to say about the death of young Tamir Rice is because LeBron is a parent," he said. "That could have been his son. The other members, the Cleveland Browns players that stepped forward, they were parents. They weren't doing this in some political fashion."

Cuomo noted that Jabbar has often spoken out, but he did it by writing "very thoughtful things," but Jabbar said younger athletes are seeing how their actions are bringing about change.

"I'm thinking now of the University of Missouri football team and they effected change and did it in a way it wasn't about their anger," said Jabbar. "It was about the issue that was a real issue that they wanted to speak about. So I think the most crucial aspect of this is for anyone who wants to make a statement to make sure it's not about anger and about the issue. And when people see that, they'll get over the fact that they were using this moment to make their protest. Because their protests are valid."

President Donald Trump has often attacked NFL players who continue to kneel during the national anthem, including saying in a tweet Monday that the players are "showing total disrespect" to the United States and its flag by their actions.

Jabbar, though, said he believes the NFL players are "going out of their way to convey their righteous anger and concern over issues."

He also said he does not think their protests are being done in a destructive way.

"I think people are twisting the issue, because they don't want to talk about the fact that young black Americans are being shot down," said Jabbar.

Jabbar, a well-respected writer, said if he was still playing, he'd get out his pen and pad and write essays about his concerns, but he knows that there are many players who don't understand how to voice their concerns.

The basketball star is no stranger to protests for justice in the United States. He first achieved fame under his birth name, Lew Alcindor, but changed it officially in 1971, three years after he became a Muslim and then boycotted the 1968 Summer Olympics to protest the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the United States.

Meanwhile, Jabbar is being honored by the Ellis Island Foundation this week for his achievements as a son of immigrants. He explained that his father immigrated to New York in 1917, so his family has been in the country for 100 years.

"I'm very happy and proud to be an American and to be the second generation, you know, from my grandparents' arrival in this country," he said.

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National Football League players and other professional athletes are not dishonoring the flag or their country by kneeling in protest during the national anthem, but are instead trying to hold America up to its own standards with how matters of justice are handled, National...
kareem abdul jabbar, athletes, national anthem, protests, great
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2017-36-23
Monday, 23 October 2017 03:36 PM
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